Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Push for Technology

The video posted above proves that the world is expanding at an astonishing rate. In fact, this video was created in 2009 and most of those statistics are probably more astonishing now. The statistics stir up some important questions, especially in the field of educating future generations of students.

One of the most important questions the video asks is if schools are preparing their students for the dynamic world we live in today. Teaching students information is useless these days. Schools need to put more and more emphasis on teaching skills. These skills include everything from using computers and publishing information to evaluating and analyzing data. The estimate made by the U.S. Department of Labor states that today’s students will have had 10 to 14 jobs by the time they reach 38 years old. This means that tomorrow’s workers need to be able to switch jobs easily. Teaching students raw information simply won’t cut it for future generations. Skillful individuals will have the most success because they will be able to change with the ever changing world.

This clip also highlights the rapid expansion of technology in the world. It really proves that schools in the United States need to incorporate technology into classrooms today, in order to stay competitive with emerging countries such as China and India. Todays students will be dealing with computers for the rest of their lives and it only makes sense to raise them and educate them amid all of this technology. The computers that will be used five years from now will make today’s computer obsolete; therefore, it only makes sense to get students utilizing computers today, because they will be exceedingly more powerful tomorrow.

It is apparent that today’s classrooms are just too slow at incorporating technology. Today, cars look like the ones artists in the past would predict they would in the future. They are sleek, powerful, and safe. However, classrooms were also imagined to be flooded with technology with infinite amounts of information. These days they just aren’t. There isn’t a futuristic robot voice that greets you when you walk in and there isn’t the kind of unimaginable types of interactive computers that help students learn. There really are only a few smart boards and Power Points used in classrooms. Both of these kinds of technology are nothing more than glorified blackboards. Where are the interactive computers that allow students to walk into a virtual reality world and learn about the Ancient Egyptians by talking to them? If there was a greater push for technology in schools we could probably have mind blowing technologies being used to educate students that will be dumped into a dynamic world of technology.

Monday, December 20, 2010

IPad: Hot or Not?

By Sean Scarpiello

Schools across the country are now investing in IPads for instructional use in classrooms. The IPad is an amazing device and to be able to implement these on a large scale for education purposes is quite a concept. But will these cool gadgets work out in the classroom?

Initially, IPads could be an ideal item to use in education because they can completely replace the use of textbooks. Textbooks are expensive and heavy and needed for each subject. With an IPad, teachers can download the eBooks onto their Ipad and then download the same book onto each of the students’ IPads. A student could have one IPad with all the textbooks for each of his/her subjects. So schools can really only pay for a textbook once and use it for the entire class. The IPad also has interactive games and applications that can be efficiently used to teach students. Keeping students interacting with the information is also advantageous to learning as opposed to the typical textbook, notebook and blackboard lecture style of learning. Students also think it is neat to be using a computer that fits in their hands during class which can hold everything from homework assignments and lesson plans to a syllabus and text books. They could even take notes on the IPad. There are likely even future technological advances with IPads that may further improve education.

There are some setbacks that come along with the IPad. The price is a bit ridiculous and Apple typically does not budge pricewise when purchasing their products, even when buying in bulk. Considering they can replace multiple numbers of expensive textbooks, the price may be reasonable depending on what the charge is for each electronic textbook copy.

Another flaw that can be said about any piece of technology in the market today is its terrible quality. Whether it is an IPad or a dishwasher, products have constantly been decreasing in quality. This brings to question the IPad, which may be dropped by a 2nd grader multiple times a week. Would an IPad stand up to the potential damage that it could be exposed to in a lower grade classroom setting? Replacing IPads often would likely be a drain on a school district's bank account. Stealing of IPads could also become a problem. It is unlikely that a school, except for a college or university, could require that a student be required to purchase an IPad.

I have heard that Apple, the manufacturer of the IPad, is extremely unreliable when it comes to replacing their products, when found to be faulty. The internal battery is a flaw because the entire system must be replaced when it no longer holds a charge. Also, in general the screen and structure of an IPad will usually not survive a drop from the hands of a 3rd grader onto a tile floor. Even with a warranty, it is likely that when you call up Apple for a replacement, they will just explain that it was user error and tell you to buy a new one. If they were cheaper and could more easly be fixed by the schools IT guy, it might be a different story. If the IPads were built to a high military spec, like a military grade cell phone, that can practically be dropped from 3 stories and be fine, the IPad would be great for educational purposes in schools.

In all, the IPad may prove to be to a milestone in bringing cheap and efficient technology into the education field. If we could only figure out a way to make the IPad strong enough to handle grade school students across the country, then it would be a valuable option for educating more people at lower prices.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Priceless Education at No Cost

By Sean Scarpiello

What if there was a form of education that accepted practically everyone, was free, and you were guaranteed a stable job for a few years upon graduation? In the US, especially with today’s economy, it sounds impossible. In fact, it is very possible and it is one of the most overlooked benefits of being an American. It is called the military.

At first, most people cringe at the idea of storming to a beach in amphibian assault vehicles while being under fire. As much as the media dramatize the military, 99.9% of the time it is completely skewed. Today, the military is rather safe, even though the US is at war. I’m not saying that there is no danger at all, but it is better than most imagine. Plus, if you definitely don’t want to see action, there are ways of getting around it. For example, join the Air Force where no more than 2% soldiers actually fly planes. There is still the other 98% of this branch of the Department of Defense that are responsible for the support for the pilots and the airplanes.

Also, just try to avoid the most dangerous branches of the military like the Army’s infantry, the Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and the Marines. The only reason people are scared of the military are because it is these, most dangerous yet heroic, branches that get the most media coverage.

There is nothing wrong with being the guy behind the scenes that loads ammunition on jets and fixes the engines on tanks. These are relatively safe jobs that the military needs in order to operate. While doing these sorts of jobs, you gain skills useful to life as a civilian. If you can repair the engine on a tank or aircraft carrier, small cars and boats will be a breeze when you retire from the military. Some people find that the military is for them and stick around many years longer than anticipated and they can rank up and retire with a pretty good pension plan and medical benefits.

One of the other perks of being in the military is when you do retire, companies are quick to hire veterans because they have a distinct character and integrity that sets them apart from the rest. Veterans are highly respected because they have made the commitment to potentially risk their lives so that friends and family in the US can keep the freedoms we have today. The military gives Americans a priceless education, rich in both knowledge and experience, at no cost for most, but at a high cost for the few that give up their life for our freedom.